The Department of Optometry and Vision Science is part of the University of Latvia Faculty of Physics, Mathematics and Optometry. Simultaneously with teaching, the department implements internationally significant research on physical and biological, neurological and cognitive vision processes.

 


The Department of Optometry and Vision Science studies the functionality of the vision system when people work with an information visualization innovation – a volumetric 3D display developed in Latvia.

Since no similar research has been conducted in the world to date, a team of scientists from the Department of Optometry and Vision Science has developed methods to assess depth sensation, eye focus, and work ability with a multi-plane volumetric display.

The study identified the advantages of using the volumetric display in evaluation of depth perception, visual functions and work efficiency, compared to the commonly used 2D displays, as well as identified the characteristics of visual perception of specific users.

The research was started in 2017 in cooperation with the company SIA LightSpace Technologies within the framework of the UL Effective Cooperation project. The collaboration continues, adapting the methods developed in the research for studying the answers of the vision system to the company's new product – portable 3D display.

The consulting room of visual ergonomics was established in 2017 with the support of the UL Foundation and SIA Mikrotīkls, thus creating an opportunity to provide quality vision care services and develop new diagnostic methods for the prevention of visual impairments and discomfort caused by the specific nature of work.

The Department of Optometry and Vision Science evaluates and studies human visual functions by using the equipment, which is unique in the Baltics – a device for assessment of dynamic accommodation of eye, a retinal pigment optical thickness measuring device, a light scattering assessment device, a tear quality assessment device, a tear osmolarity testing device, an ergonomic table and a digital slit lamp.

Detailed eye accommodation studies are performed with the method of eccentric photorefractometry, which allows to study the visual load at different types of stimuli and working distances. The obtained measurements contribute to understanding of the focusing mechanism of the eye over time, to visualize the accommodation microfluctions and to measure the delay of each person's individual accommodation response. In parallel, research into the quality and quantity of tears is underway.

By combining knowledge in colorimetry, psychophysics and visual perception, the researchers of the department create colour vision tests and research related to visual perception. Approximately 8% of the human population has a colour vision deficiency, which manifests itself as difficulty in distinguishing coloured objects. Colour vision tests are vital for professions such as aircraft pilots, surgeons, electricians, photographers, designers, and more.

In the Department of Optometry and Vision Science, it is possible to diagnose colour vision deficiency which can be congenital or acquired during the lifetime, by using certified colour vision tests, as well as those developed by the staff of the department. Colour vision in the Department of Optometry and Vision Science can be diagnosed with anomaloscope, HRR, D15, CCT and CAD colour vision tests. They detect the type and severity of colour vision deficit and monitor changes in chromatic sensitivity over a lifetime.

 

The Department of Optometry and Vision Science conducts the leading vision science studies in Latvia, exploring the influence of various types of optical correction, visual stimuli parameters, lighting and other important factors on the eye accommodation and vergence system. Studies of ocular fatigue and discomfort are also performed to determine ocular comfort, subjective complaints, and factors affecting quality of life.

The department's researchers have developed and carried out one of the largest vision screenings for school-age children in Europe. The eyesight of more than 11 000 pupils was tested. Every year, cooperation with Latvian schools continues and the database on the visual functions of Latvian pupils is supplemented.

The department also conducts dry eye syndrome research using the latest measurement options such as tear osmolarity testing, tear lipid layer assessment and others.

Final papers are elaborated every year, and these studies are organised in cooperation with the leading optical companies in the industry. The technical equipment of the laboratories is excellent, and competitive scientific research can be performed there.

Research findings, conclusions and the resulting professional recommendations by the staff members of the Department of Optometry and Vision Science are presented in continuing education courses for practicing optometrists and ophthalmologists.

The Department of Optometry and Vision Science is equipped with five eye movement recording devices, which enable obtaining high-precision eye movement recording for the analysis of fine eye movements and, using the head movement analysis function embedded into the devices, to ensure the study conditions that are as close to natural as possible. With the help of equipment, it is possible to obtain information about the operation of the human vision system and the visual attention processes.

The department researches the processes of visual information grouping, analyses eye movements while reading, vergence eye movements, sports vision, etc. A large part of the research is developed in cooperation with various Latvian higher education institutions and organizations, for example, research on the effectiveness of military camouflage (National Guard Science, Research and Innovation Centre), analysis of eye movements in review of Latvian Internet news portals (Riga Stradiņš University). In cooperation with the students of the Art Academy of Latvia, eye movement equipment is also used in the creation of works of art, which are available for viewing in art exhibitions in Latvia and abroad.